Saturday Sermon: Editing Obama on Civil Liberties

Last week, Glenn Greenwald annotated a campaign speech by Obama about civil liberties and the rule of law (boldface mine):

We know it's time to time to restore our Constitution and the rule of law. This is an issue that was at the heart of Senator Dodd's candidacy, and I share his passion for restoring the balance between the security we demand and the civil liberties that we cherish.

The American people must be able to trust that their president values principle over politics, and justice over unchecked power. I've been proud to stand with Senator Dodd in his fight against retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill granting immunity to the telecoms]. Secrecy and special interests must not trump accountability [GG: This was roughly 11 months before the Obama DOJ began embracing the Bush/Cheney "state secrets" privilege to shield lawless programs from judicial review]. We must show our citizens -- and set an example to the world -- that laws cannot be ignored when it is inconvenient. Because in America -- no one is above the law [GG: This was about a year before he announced that no Bush officials should be prosecuted for crimes because we must Look Forward].

It's time to reject torture without equivocation. It's time to close Guantanamo and to restore habeas corpus [GG: This was about a year before his administration began insisting that people we abduct and ship to Bagram have no right to habeas review]. It's time to give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to track down and take out terrorists, while ensuring that their actions are subject to vigorous oversight that protects our freedom [GG: This was just four months before Obama would vote for a bill massively expanding warrantless eavesdropping]. So let me be perfectly clear: I have taught the Constitution, I understand the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution when I am President of the United States.

This is why I've soured on Obama (not that I had particularly high hopes to begin with). These are primarily sins of comission: all he had to do was not be Bush. And he failed.

More like this

It's going to be one of those weeks, so I don't know how much I'm going to get to post. I do, however, want to share the editorial from this week's Nation (emphasis mine): George W. Bush's decision to move Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and thirteen other "high value" Al Qaeda captives from secret CIA…
Things look better on the FISA front: the Democrats, in an uncharacteristic fit of intelligence, agreed to compromise by attaching provisions that allow telecommunications companies to present evidence to a FISA court that they did not break the law even if the president classifies the information…
If I commit a crime against and possibly damage who knows how many American citizens I sure hope Congress comes to my rescue and gives me retroactive immunity: The Senate voted Tuesday to shield from lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on their customers…
Several days ago, Senator (and longshot Presidential candidate) Christopher Dodd (D-CT) made some news by promising to do whatever he could to block any legislation that would retroactively grant immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with President Bush's warrentless wiretapping…

My one hope for the present administration is that it makes different mistakes than those made by the previous administration. I suppose it is to much to expect 100% non-overlap.

By Jim thomerson (not verified) on 02 Aug 2009 #permalink

Definitely with you on this one. The lesser of the evils, but not by nearly enough.

By Physicalist (not verified) on 02 Aug 2009 #permalink